Adani Group's plan to mine coal from the Machhakata block in the coal rich belt of Angul suffered a setback today with public hearing scrapped due to stiff resistance of the locals.
The district administration was forced to cancel the public hearing amid resistance from the affected people.
"The additional district magistrate and officials of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) who were present at the spot took a call on cancelling the public hearing after taking stock of the situation. The hearing was scrapped to prevent any untoward incident", said Sachin R Jadhav, the Angul collector.
Rajesh Jha, chief executive officer, Adani Mining & Power, was not available for comments.
Braving heavy rains, the locals turned up in droves to oppose the public hearing for the coal mine project that will affect nearly 3500 families in four village panchayats.
The scheduled public hearing had already faced opposition from environmental activists who questioned its timing amid recent Supreme Court ruling on arbitrary coal block allocations. The apex court on August 24 held that all coal block allocations made between 1993 and 2010 by the NDA and UPA regimes were done in an illegal manner without application of mind.
Social activist and Lok Shakti Abhiyan president Prafulla Samantara has lauded the resistance shown by the locals to the mining project.
"The Angul district administration was bound to cancel it (public hearing) as the affected people who are to be displaced from 7000 acres of agriculture land were determined to oppose the project", said Samantara.
He questioned the government's move to conduct the public hearing despite the Supreme Court declaring allotment of all 218 coal blocks including Machhakata block as illegal.
Though Machhakata coal block was awarded to Mahaguj Collieries Ltd, a joint venture between Maharashtra Power Generation Company Ltd (Mahagenco) and Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Ltd (GSECL), Adani Group's flagship company Adani Enterprises had won rights to develop and operate this coal block.
The block has mineable reserve of 1244 million tonne. As per the development plan, it will have an initial mining capacity of 30 million tonne per annum (mtpa) that is to be subsequently ramped up to 50 mtpa. The mining lease is spread over 3023 hectares (ha). The project is estimated to cost Rs 20,000 crore.